Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 18 News List

NBA: Jeremy Lin scores 22 to help Rockets toward playoffs

AP, PORTLAND, Oregon

James Harden had 33 points and short-handed Houston edged closer to clinching a playoff spot with a 116-98 victory over Portland on Friday.

Jeremy Lin added 22 points to help the Rockets to their fourth straight victory. Houston (43-33) remained in seventh place in the Western Conference — three games in front of the Los Angeles Lakers — for their first playoff appearance since 2008-2009.

LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an ankle injury with 32 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers (33-43), who matched their season-worst slide with a seventh straight loss.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant overcame a bruised left calf to score 34 points and lead the Thunder to a 97-75 win over the Indiana Pacers, moving the team level with San Antonio for top spot in the NBA’s Western Conference.

Russell Westbrook added 24 points for the Thunder, who beat the Spurs on Thursday, after arriving at the team hotel in Indianapolis at 4am, then went out and prevented the Pacers from clinching their first Central Division title in nine years.

The Pacers, who got 22 points from Roy Hibbert, could clinch the title with a win yesterday at Washington.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers held onto the last playoff position in the West by beating Memphis. Carmelo Anthony tied a franchise record as New York downed Milwaukee and won their 11th straight, while a depleted Miami had enough in hand to defeat Charlotte. Houston edged closer to the playoffs with a win over Portland, while Philadelphia had their highest-scoring quarter of the season in beating Atlanta.

Lakers star Kobe Bryant had 24 points and nine assists, while Pau Gasol added 19 in their 86-84 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, with Dwight Howard hitting the late winner.

THREE STRAIGHT

The Lakers have won three straight in the final weeks of their desperate push for a post-season spot. Los Angeles also avoided getting swept in their season series with the Grizzlies, whose four-game winning streak ended.

Memphis’ Mike Conley scored 21 points before missing a potential go-ahead jumper with 5 seconds left and added another layup before the buzzer for the playoff-bound Grizzlies, who fell one game behind Denver for the fourth seed in the West. The Grizzlies could not score in the final 2.5 minutes.

New York’s Anthony scored 41 points, tying a franchise record with this third straight 40-point game, as the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 101-83.

Anthony, who had 50 points and 40 in his previous two games, equaled Bernard King’s 1984-1985 mark. New York matched the third-longest winning streak in franchise history.

J.R. Smith added 30 points for the Knicks, who used a 42-point third quarter to turn around the game after a lackluster first half.

Miami’s Mike Miller scored a season-high 26 points on seven three-pointers, as the injury-depleted Heat beat the Charlotte Bobcats 89-79.

The Heat won despite playing without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, who were held out while recovering from injuries.

The 33-year-old Miller was seven-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc.

Chris Bosh chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds for Miami, who need three more victories to pass the franchise record of 61 wins in a regular season.

Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Bobcats.

The Philadelphia 76ers piled on 40 points in the first quarter to set up a 101-90 win at the Atlanta Hawks.

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